Waiving Rules to Speed Hospital Admissions

To ensure our members get the care they need, eliminate potential delays in admission and treatment, and help New Jersey hospitals deal with the increasing demand on staff resources, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey (Horizon BCBSNJ) is waiving pre-authorization and pre-certification for inpatient admissions at in-network acute care h…
— Read on http://www.horizonhealthnews.com/eliminating-pre-authorization-requirements-for-acute-care-hospital-admissions-and-referral-requirements-for-medicaid-members/

CWA Human Rights – COVID-19 Resources

While the COVID-19 outbreak has a widespread impact, for some groups the situation furthers their vulnerabilities and limitations. On this page, you will find a list of resources, campaigns, and actions to help support your families and communities as we all work to respond to this moment.
— Read on cwa-union.org/cwa-human-rights-covid-19-resources

State Health Benefit Plan COVID19 Testing/Treatment – No Cost to Members

All New Jersey State Health Benefit plans including all PPOs (CWA Unity, NJ Direct, NJ Direct 10 & 15, etc.), HMO, Tiered network and high deductible plans will cover all testing and treatment for COVID19 without member payment of copays, deductible or any other out of pocket costs.

No Limits on Early Refill of Maintenance Drugs

OptumRx will drop all prohibition against the “early” refill of maintenance drugs for all SHBP prescription plans.  Controlled substances such as opioids will continue to have prohibitions against early refills.

Telemedicine and Telehealth Offered with No Member Copay for In-network Providers

State Health Benefits Plan has announced all in-network, and out-of-network providers may provide telemedicine (audio/visual through Skype, Google, etc.) and Telehealth (audio only)remote office visits during the COVID19 emergency and receive payment for an office visit.   Members who have Telemedicine/Telehealth visits during the COVID19 crisis with an in-network provider will not have a copay or any other cost.   Members who receive Telemedicine/Telehealth from an out-of-network provider will continue to pay a copay and deductible amounts.
Telemedicine/Telehealth behavioral health visits are included.

Governor Murphy Orders Free COVID19 Testing for Uninsured

Most part-time, intermittent, and seasonal employees are ineligible for coverage through State Health Benefits, and many may be completely uninsured.  To ensure that uninsured individuals have access to testing for COVID-19, the Murphy Administration requires hospitals and Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) to waive patient fees for testing and related diagnostic services for those who lack health insurance.

CWA NJ Town Hall Call COVID-19

CWA NJ Town Hall call Thursday, March 19th at 8:00 pm and again Friday, March 20th at 11:00 am for members with information on our efforts during the COVID-19 Coronavirus crisis. If you DO NOT receive the call, you can dial in at 855-269-4484.

COVID-19 Coronavirus update

This writing is to provide some information pertaining to the Covid19 situation and what the Union is doing to protect the workforce from continued exposure. This is completely unchartered territory and everyone is working around the clock to get plans enacted quickly to shut the state down as completely as possible. We agree that department’s waiting any longer to take action is irresponsible.

Your Union leadership has been on calls with every department as well as the Governor’s office addressing your concerns for over a week now. The Governor has ordered all State departments to put a work from home plan in place by the end of today to minimize the number of employees who would be required to report to their work locations. We are also reviewing lists that identify those employees deemed essential and those who have the ability to work from a remote location. We are trying to maximize those numbers. Many of you have had to complete forms identifying your ability to do this with state issued equipment or personal equipment that has the capability to log into the State’s portals. If the department determines you do not have the capability or there is no need to work from home, and you have not been designated essential, you will be permitted to stay home and will be paid for the time you are out of work. This should all be in place and in effect by Wednesday.

For those who have compromised immune systems or other medical conditions that place you at a higher risk, we encourage you to stay home and use your sick time. If you have the ability to secure a doctor’s note, you should provide it to your department’s Human Resource office with a copy to your Union Local. We will address the use of leave time once this situation subsides.

These are scary times and we are all feeling the pressure of how to best protect ourselves. We also understand that “we’re working on it” is growing old, but we are seriously working on this non-stop. It may become necessary to mobilize our efforts to put significant pressure on the administration so be on the lookout for additional information.

We urge you to make decisions based on what is best for you and your family. The main goal here is to minimize the spread and impact of this virus, keep as many people healthy as possible, and return to life as we once knew it.

Coronavirus Information for New Jersey Members of CWA

This is an advisory for CWA Members on the current COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic.

  1. CWA has contacted all the Employers that our members work for and we have asked for clarification from each employer as to what their protocols are, how they will be handling leaves and self-quarantines and other information. These requests are being handled through our Locals and our Locals are encouraging Employers to properly communicate with members so that they know what the protocols are. In cases where Employers are not setting up protocols and communicating with our members, we will directly reach out to them to advise those employers what we think the protocols should be. At this point, it appears that most of our employers are cooperating with our requests and are communicating with us.
  2. The State of New Jersey has a Task Force that is meeting seven days a week and is guiding the State regarding this public health crisis. As part of that work, the Governor has issued an Executive Order declaring a State of Emergency. For our State Workers, the State has issued comprehensive instructions as to how leave will be treated in the event of self-quarantine and/or school closures. That information can be found here: https://nj.gov/csc/employees/covid.html. This information is updated regularly. A new version came out today, 3/13/2020 so you should check it for changes and additions regularly.
  3. The Judiciary has said that they will follow the same rules as the State of New Jersey regarding leaves. Some counties have said that as well, but others are issuing their own protocols, and our private sector employers should issue their own protocols as well.
  4. The State of New Jersey is also providing public information daily for all New Jersey families which can be found here: https://www.nj.gov/health/cd/topics/ncov.shtml. In addition, you can call the State hotline number if you have a specific and personal question regarding the virus at 1-800-222-1222 (or 1-800-962-1253 if using out-of-state phone line.) The hotline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  5. We are immediately focused on those of our workplaces that have a high degree of public contact, and on our members who are engaged in Direct Care. We are having specific conversations with the State of New Jersey regarding these workplaces, and we are working with our Locals on our County Boards of Social Services and other workplaces that we are concerned will have increased public stress upon them at the same time there is the potential for increased risk. As we have more information, we are sharing it with our Locals and our Locals are sharing it with members. We are discussing what happens in the event of shutdowns, work from home, and how essential workers will be treated.
  6. Many of the questions you are likely to have, your leadership also has, and we are working steadily with Public Health officials and with our Employers to answer such question as the crisis continues.
  7. Next Wednesday, March 18 we will have a Townhall call with our State and Judiciary shop stewards and with representatives of the Department of Health, where we hope to have up to date information. On Thursday, March 19, we will have a Townhall call with our Local Gov’t and private sector shop stewards to bring them up to date. Our shop stewards will then share information at the worksite.
  8. If you have a specific question that is a Leave or direct exposure question, please contact your Shop Steward and Local. If your question is more of a direct health related question, please consult healthcare professionals, and call the hotline. Your CWA representatives can help you with some matters, but we are not qualified to evaluate any direct healthcare matters.
  9. If you are sick, please don’t go to work. If you experience respiratory trouble and a fever, please make sure that you consult a healthcare professional. If you come in direct contact with someone with the coronavirus, please make sure that you report it so that you and others are kept safe.
  10. Stay healthy. There are many advisories out there as to what are the best ways that you can stay healthy, but they include: frequent hand washing for at least 20 seconds; Use of hand sanitizer in between hand washings; Avoid touching your face. In addition, consider carefully participating in voluntary events that are crowded and include many people. Be especially careful if your immune system is otherwise compromised or if you are older, have diabetes or heart disease.
  11. Gloves and Masks. There is no scientific evidence that would support our members generally wearing gloves and masks and there are reasons to NOT wear gloves and masks, including the fact that they give people a false sense of security. If you touch your face with a glove that has germs on it, it is no better than touching your face with your hands, hand washing is better, and – and this is important – workers in healthcare facilities really do need to have those supplies and there is a shortage of them and we don’t want to use up supplies that are needed elsewhere, especially if they are ineffective. We understand that gloves and masks may give some workers a sense of comfort, but if it is a false sense, we need to go with science.

What’s the bottomline? CWA is carefully monitoring the situation for our members. We are asking Employers to conduct themselves responsibly and we are particularly focused on making sure actions that protect our members and their families are being considered wherever possible. The fact that many of our members are public workers of course complicates this, because in many cases we are the essential front lines of this public crisis.

We are asking our members to take responsibility to act prudently when they can (washing hands, self-reporting and self -quarantines, speak with your Local and with appropriate health professionals) and to cooperate with all efforts that are being made to keep the virus from spreading. We will continue to get information out to our members as we understand it and it is helpful.

Please stay united and let’s take care of each other during these frightening times. #CWASTRONG.

SPECIAL NOTICE TO R-HEALTH MEMBERS: IN ORDER TO PROTECT ALL MEMBERS, R-HEALTH HAS SUSPENDED WALK IN SERVICES TO PREVENT ANY INADVERTENT EXPOSURE. IF YOU HAVE SYMPTOMS OR YOU NEED AN APPOINTMENT WITH YOUR PRIMARY CARE DOCTOR, YOU SHOULD CALL OR USE ONLINE TOOLS. YOU WILL GET AN IMMEDIATE RESPONSE AND THEY WILL DIRECT YOU TO WHAT CARE THAT YOU NEED. IF YOU SEEK WALK IN SERVICES, THEY WILL NOT BE AVAILABLE AND IT WILL DELAY – NOT EXPEDITE – TREATMENT.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS FOR EMPLOYEES STATE EMPLOYEE LEAVE TIME AND STAFFING – COVID-19

  1. If I am diagnosed with COVID-19, what should I do?
    The employee should notify their human resources office as soon as possible and forward medical documentation confirming diagnosis within three business days to the Appointing Authority’s representative or office tasked with receiving sick or leave documentation. Diagnosed employees should stay home and follow medical direction regarding treatment and absence from work. In accordance with the Guidelines, employees can be absent from work for the time period specified in accordance with the provided documentation without using accumulated leave time.
  2. If I have been diagnosed with or exposed to COVID-19, when can I return to work?
    Employees who have been exposed to or diagnosed with the COVID-19 virus will not be permitted to enter the workplace until they are either medically cleared (regarding those with COVID-19) or until the expiration of the recommended 14- day period of quarantine from the point of last exposure (regarding those who were exposed).
  3. What if I am quarantined or otherwise unable to work due to exposure to COVID-19?
    If an employee is directed by a medical professional or government agency to self- isolate or quarantine due to suspicion of exposure to or diagnosis with COVID-19, and/or is undergoing a period of self-quarantine or isolation pursuant to public health assessment recommendations, then the employee will not be required to utilize accumulated leave time if they provide documentation verifying the same within three work days of the initial absence.
    If an employee does not provide such documentation, then the employee will be required to utilize their own accumulated leave time.
  4. What if I become ill during a work day and suspect I have symptoms consistent with COVID-19?
    All possible cases of COVID-19 will be taken seriously. If you become ill while at the workplace and suspect your symptoms are consistent with COVID-19, you should immediately contact your human resources office, who will ensure that you are separated from other employees and sent home, consistent with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the New Jersey Department of Health (DOH). That guidance is available at https://www.nj.gov/health/cd/documents/topics/NCOV/Guide%20for%20businesses_3-4-2020.pdf

  1. What happens if I am impacted by the COVID-19 virus through a school closing?
    Employees who are not under suspicion of having been exposed to the virus or diagnosed with the virus, but have to stay home with a child due to the closure of a preschool program, elementary or secondary school, or child care center related to COVID-19, will be required to provide documentation verifying the closing. An Appointing Authority may accommodate requests to work from home under certain circumstances. If a work home arrangement cannot be accommodated, the employee will not be required to use accumulated leave during the period of the COVID-19-related closure.
  2. If I need to stay home to care with a family member diagnosed with COVID- 19, what should I do?
    If the employee’s absence is caused by the employee’s need to care for an immediate family member who (i) has been diagnosed with COVID-19, (ii) was directed by a medical professional or government agency to self-isolate or quarantine due to possible exposure to or diagnosis with COVID-19, and/or (iii) is undergoing a period of self-quarantine or isolation pursuant to public health assessment recommendations, the employee shall submit documentation verifying the family member’s COVID-19-related illness, exposure, and/or quarantine period to the Appointing Authority’s representative or office tasked with receiving sick or leave documentation within three days of the employee’s initial absence. If no such documentation is received, the employee will need to use accumulated leave time.
  3. If I am subject to documentation requirements due to excessive absenteeism or abuse of sick leave, will I be penalized for further COVID-19 related absences?
    Employees who had previously been subjected to documentation requirements under their Appointing Authority’s standard operating procedures due to excessive absenteeism or abuse of sick leave shall not be disciplined for future absences that occur as a result of their being suspected of or diagnosed with the COVID-19 virus or having to be absent to care for a family member impacted by the virus.
  4. What type of documentation will I be required to submit?
    For cases where individuals are undergoing a period of isolation or quarantine, documentation from a local, state or federal governmental agency, a medical professional, office, or hospital or proof that the employee was recently in a location where the recommendation by a governmental agency is to self- quarantine will satisfy the requirement to provide documentation. Additional forms of documentation may be permitted by the State agency, commission, or Appointing Authority following consultation with the Chair of the Civil Service Commission.
  5. For cases where individuals are caring for an immediate family member sickened by or diagnosed with COVID-19, then the employee shall submit documentation verifying the family member’s COVID-19-related illness to the Appointing Authority’s Human Resources Office within three days of the employee’s initial absence.

CWA Addresses Coronavirus Outbreak | Communications Workers of America

CWA Addresses Coronavirus Outbreak
— Read on cwa-union.org/news/cwa-addresses-coronavirus-outbreak

CWA Addresses Coronavirus Outbreak | Communications Workers of America

As the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to affect communities across the globe, CWA leaders are engaging with employers to ensure that they are providing CWA members with comprehensive safety and prevention measures in an environment that encourages open and free communication without fear of reprisal or negative impacts on pay or continued employment.

Click here for CDC flyer on the Coronavirus

CWA’s Health and Safety department has established a process for locals to report on what protections employers have put in place as well as for members to report any incidents of exposure or infection. If you have been exposed to COVID-19 or are experiencing symptoms consistent with infection, please contact your CWA Local or District immediately.

Local health and safety committees are also sharing information with members on protocols for avoiding infection at their workplaces.

These resources provide more information on how to protect yourself from coronavirus infection, what to do if you are sick, and how to address the risk of infection in your workplace:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Coronavirus Disease 2019
Occupational Safety and Health Administration COVID-19 Hazard Recognition
AFL-CIO Coronavirus Resources
eNewsletter Issue: 
Mar 5, 2020 – CWA Addresses Coronavirus Outbreak
— Read on cwa-union.org/news/cwa-addresses-coronavirus-outbreak

Discrimination and Harassment Survey

The CWA Local 1033 Education and Equity Committee mission is to educate and inspire members of all genders, religions, sexual orientations, ages, and those with disabilities, to give our members a voice, to know their rights and to put a stop to discrimination and harassment in the workplace and in society.

WE WANT TO HELP!

This survey is available to CWA Local 1033 members who are being discriminated or harassed at the workplace.

The survey answers will be sent to Regina M. Jackson, chair of the Education & Equity committee.

Members can also contact us.


ADDITIONAL LINKS:

Forms

U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission – Discrimination by Type

State of New Jersey – Division of Civil Rights – Employment Discrimination

New Jersey Civil Service Commission – Laws Prohibiting Employment Discrimination

CWA Local 1033 Grievance Information